Message from the Director
Carolyn P. Wilson
In 1997 New York City got a new criminal defense firm – New York County Defender Services (NYCDS). In a city populated by over 8 million people, the need for another knowledgeable and passionate not-for-profit law firm became evident. Working in cramped quarters on the 5th floor of 225 Broadway, a core assembly of 13 attorneys joined in a single focus to provide quality legal representation at no cost to the clients. The original group of NYCDS attorneys collectively boasted a staggering 100+ years of criminal defense experience. Modest offices that housed sometimes six lawyers in one room, produced cutting edge and newsworthy legal arguments forged by vigorous debate and copious research.
NYCDS was born out of a Request for Proposals from the City of New York along with the foresight and dreams of its original organizers and staff. Then, as it is now, most of the funding for NYCDS comes from the City of New York. We also receive funding from New York State.
The goal in 1997 remains the same as it does today with 68 attorneys, forensic social workers, investigators and administrative staff members – to provide what we call the ‘greatest good’ for clients of which there have been over 300,000 since 1997. The greatest good has come in many forms at NYCDS depending on the needs of our clients. The greatest good begins with, “Your client is released without bail” but also includes, “we’ve found a bed for your client”, “your client has been accepted into the program”, “our family has been reunited” and of course “not guilty”.
To accomplish this greatest good NYCDS conducts rigorous training programs for new NYCDS attorneys replete with trial practice seminars and a six week boot camp teaching trial practice administered by two supervisors with over 40 years of trial experience. Additionally, all NYCDS attorneys are continuously exposed to up to date continuing legal education classes.
What began in 1997 as a small but ambitious criminal defense firm has grown into the second largest criminal defense firm in New York County handling over 20,000 cases per year. The goal of NYCDS has always reverberated with a pristine clarity: the highest quality criminal representation for those ensnared in the criminal justice system. A mission like that requires an unyielding desire to serve. NYCDS is dedicated to defending New York City, one person at a time.
Carolyn P. Wilson
Message from the Executive Director Stan A. Germán
As the new executive director of NYCDS, it is not a new beginning for me but rather a return home. I am delighted to find that the values, principles and work ethic that forged a new public defender office in 1997 are alive and thriving in 2015. It is no surprise that of the thirty-two attorneys who were at NYCDS when I left in 2002, twenty are still present. NYCDS has always had a core of attorneys and staff who are 100% dedicated to being outstanding advocates for the most vulnerable members of our society. The foundation of what has always made NYCDS a first-rate public defender office continues to be present and we are as strong as ever. Our attorneys, on average, have 17 years of experience and while the office has nearly doubled in size since 2002, our veteran lawyers are a constant source of knowledge, assistance and friendship to our newer lawyers. As the second-generation leader of this institution, I am committed to expanding our reach beyond the courthouse. To that end, we have established a community outreach committee in an effort to forge a bond with our clients outside of Manhattan Criminal Courts. Additionally, we have formed an advocacy committee to explore new ways to expand the zealous representation of our clients and we are in the process of working with a third-party organization to create a charitable bail fund.
At its core, NYCDS has always felt like family to me. A place where all of our staff come together fifty-two weeks each year to fight the tough fight; we eat lunch and dinner together; we work nights and weekends together; we brainstorm cases together. In sum, we work together for our clients. I am thrilled to continue this tradition.
Stan A. Germán